A lost lion pride of 200 was found in Ethiopia. The big caps were discovered in an extremely remote area in the northwest section of the country by a University of Oxford conservation research team. The lion population in Africa has been on a sharp decline for many years.
The lost lion pride was located after trail cameras were established to capture images of the big cats, the New Scientist reports. The 200 lions were found enjoying life on the remote savannahs of the Alatish National Park, near the border with Sudan.
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The discovery of the lion pride has given environmentalists hope that the lion population in Africa might be at least a little bit more robust than previously thought. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has labeled African lions as “vulnerable,” according t0 a CNN report. During the early years of the last century, the lion population on the continent stretched into the 400,000 range.
University of Oxford team leader Hans Bauer said that over the course of his career he has been forced to revise the lion population distribution map of the continent multiple times.
“I have deleted one population after the other. This is the first and probably the last time that I’m putting a new one up there,” Bauer added when noting how the hidden group of 200 lions has impacted what conservationists thought they knew about the population count, MSN reports.
200 Lions Found In Ethiopia
Bauer went on to deem the renewed commitment to preserving the lion population as “fairly positive.” He stated that officials in the Ethiopian government recently made the Alatish area a national park, and are taking the matter very seriously. Bauer called for the environmental community to support the efforts and help improve the management of the park.
The Dinder National Park in the Sudan is located near the Alatish National Park. The parks may be home to as many as 100 to 200 roving lions. There are an estimated 20,000 lions remaining in Africa. University of California at Berkeley wildlife biologist Laurence Frank says that the dwindling lion population is not the only conservation facing the continent. According to Frank, the population of all African predators are significantly decreasing.
“Considering the relative ease with which lion signs were observed, it is likely that they are resident throughout Alatash and Dinder,” Bauer also noted.
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Copious amounts of wild dogs once roamed freely in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. Today, there are only 3,000 to 5,500 of the animals left. Frank maintains that he is shocked that few people realize how close to disaster many of the animals on the planet are.
“People know about elephants, gorillas and rhinos, but they seem blissfully unaware that these large carnivores are nearing the brink,” the wildlife biologist added. “People have always killed predators. But there’s only so much damage you can do with spears and shields. Now everyone has got rifles and poisons.”
Poaching for sale on an international black market is a major obstacle to the lion population of Africa, but not the only one. A loss of habitat and conflicts among local groups of people is also touted by environmentalists as cause for alarm. A loss of prey, which has died off for many of the same reasons, poses problems for lion prides, as well. If the big cats do not have enough food to eat and are forced to travel beyond their long-standing hunting grounds in search of sustenance, they are placing themselves at even greater risk.
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